Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Because you asked...

I’m a little leery in posting this address, but because y’all have been asking, here it is:

There are five pages of conversation and photos, so just scroll down the page and you’ll find an arrow on the left side of the page, leading to the next page.

The photographers told me they’d be sending a high res DVD with my images, so when I get them, I’ll be sure to post them here.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Cloud Nine

Maybe it was being at the Happiest Place on Earth that put an extra bounce in my step. I floated down the Mickey&Friends escalator searching for Mike Colon and twenty other photographers just as excited as the four year old girl behind me. Well, she was excited to meet Minnie, and I was excited to hang out again with some amazing people, but we were both smiling from ear to ear.

There’s about twenty of us, I told the “Tortilla Jo’s” hostess at Downtown Disney. Over salsa, tortilla chips, and queso, we spoke about color settings, personal life, and food preferences. I sat next to Becker ( www.thebecker.com ) and while I tried not to wear my heart my sleeve (which has become a fashion statement in my life lately), I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. As Becker and Jessica Claire ( www.jcsphoto.com ) playfully bantered back and forth, I sipped on my water silently listening to their conversation. Oh, I remember that story. I was about to interrupt his story when I realized he didn’t know me from Adam. I had just officially met Becker the night before at the Mansion Party, so I didn’t have the chance to tell him that I religiously read his blog…and Jessica’s. I wanted to tell them that I loved their work. That I wanted my pictures to one day look like theirs. That soon I’d be able to talk in photoese (a foreign language spoken only by professional photographers). But, instead, I continued sipping my water.

Why haven’t you ever left a comment for me on my blog, Becker asked. I tried explaining that he’s a little intimidating. Upon hearing this, he beamed. Jessica rolled her eyes and told me not to inflate his already enlarged ego. No, I’m being serious, I said. They just laughed and dismissed it, but I couldn’t really let them know how much I envied their ability to work with their cameras so effortlessly.

We left the restaurant and made our way to Disneyland. Thunder Mountain, Materhorn, and Pirates of the Caribbean occupied most of our time. We took pictures as if it was our last day on earth and laughed until our stomachs hurt.

When it was time to leave, I called Melanie.

Hey, Mel, where are you?
Walking down Main Street, why?
I’m on Main Street!
What? Where are you friend?
I’m here by the Disney Bank…yeah, to your left…

Melanie is a professional performer at Disneyland, who also happens to be one of my best friends. We walked out of the exit gates together and decided to grab dinner before she drove back to L.A. for a show she was singing in later that night.

Are you sure you want coconut soup, she asked me. Yes, with tofu, no chicken. She rolled her eyes and ordered my soup, and a confection of other Thai foods. We dipped the fried wontons in the sweet and sour sauce and slurped on the soup and swore we were in a culinary heaven.

Looking back, maybe I was in a sort of heaven. Sure, there were no singing cherubs or pearly gates, but I had such a sense of peace. And happiness. I was floating on Cloud Nine. While I’m not sure the clouds are numbered in heaven, I’m sure I was sitting on cloud number nine.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Fortune Cookie

We were all sitting around the mahogany coffee table in the living room. Eight different conversations were going on at once, but no one cared. The Lakers were playing on the big screen, but in a room full of professional photographers, everyone was more concerned with setting their flash right for the group photos. The Chinese food was ordered and when it was delivered, David Jay surreptitiously handed the guy his credit card. Chopsticks were raised in his honor. You gotta admit, the guy’s a gem.

As 35 photographers talked, ate, and took more pictures than paparazzi, I sometimes sat in silence. In new environments, I like to stand against the wall and watch. I like being the fly. But somehow I knew that this wouldn’t lend itself to being an ordinary night. I found myself dancing with some of the industry’s biggest hitters, posing in their pictures, and laughing at their jokes. It was amazing.

I knew that if I accepted Mike Colon’s offer to model, good fruit would be harvested. And let me tell you, my bags are bursting at the seams! Sure, JD and I had a phenomenal time posing for a group of photographers during the afternoon shoot, but I learned the most just by listening to Mike speak. After the shoot, all 26 of us piled into his studio to talk shop and his pricing structure. The main question of the day: How can you charge $50,000 to shoot a wedding? His answers would amaze you.

Mike set up a mock client meeting…of course he asked JD and me to be the interested couple (I’ll sign your Mike Colon DVD when it comes out if you’d like) and his approach to finding the right client is outta sight. However, beyond all the business and marketing, I was moved. I felt for the first time in a while that I was actually moving in the right direction, not merely wishing myself to move. This is it, I whispered in JD’s soft right ear. I’m going to make this happen and I couldn’t be happier. He squeezed my hands tightly together and knew that if he looked at me in the eyes, I would begin to cry. So he just squeezed.

As I cleared our plates from the mahogany coffee table, chow mein dangled from the sides. Don’t forget our fortune cookies, JD said as I made my way back to the kitchen. That’s right. Nothing’s better than life predicted by destiny dressed in hardened rice paper. Well, JD asked, what’d it read?

I smiled, held the slip of paper out to him and read aloud:

Thank you, Peking Noodle Company, for reassuring my decision. And thank you, JD, for always squeezing tightly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Aye Carumba!

Move a little more. That’s right, just like that. Can you sway back and forth? A little faster…yes, faster. How ‘bout giving us a little spin? Now hold the dress in the palm of your hands and spin. Look up. Turn this way. Arch your back. Niiiiiice. Show us some leg! Run your left hand through your hair, no, I mean your right hand. Niiiiice.

The photographers were commanding me to move in ways I never have and, for this, I’m thankful. I’m no model—nor have I ever professed to be—but working with such a talented group of photographers made me understand why they are as good as they are. If nothing else, I learned the importance of fully engaging a client, the importance of drawing out their real personality and transferring that raw emotion into a picture. Like a work of art.

After the beach shoot at Corona Del Mar, we headed back to Mike Colon’s studio for a post-shoot lecture about workflow and photo corrections. I have to admit that it was a little intimidating to stare at a six-foot image of myself on a projection screen as Mike worked on it in a Photoshop demonstration, but it was well worth any uneasiness to watch a master in action. I learned so much in just the couple hours I was in Mike’s class and I’m excited to go to my Photoshop class tonight to see if I can apply what I learned.

JD and I will be modeling again tomorrow for Mike’s class…and I have to admit that I’m excited. I’m excited to talk again with such an amazing group of photographers, to see how they handle their cameras, to watch how quickly they change their settings, to juxtapose what Mike Colon does with his camera versus what the others do with theirs. I’m just excited for everything. Afterward, everyone will head over to the Laguna Beach mansion for a little game of poker and some good times.

Oh, I almost forgot: I helped Mike make chimichangas last night for everyone. Yes, I felt it very important as the only Hispanic in the mansion to represent my heritage in the kitchen. I filled the fluffy flour tortillas with beans, cheese, and chicken, then tucked and rolled them into a burrito. Mike then took control. He fried the burritos to a golden brown and then I topped them with cheese and green chile sauce. To be honest, we made a good pair in the kitchen.

With the radio tuned to the local Spanish music station, and the sounds of mariachi music filling the air, and margaritas being passed around, I didn’t have the heart to inform the guests that there is no such thing as a “chimichanga” in Mexican cuisine. Nor does the “Chalupa” or “Meximelt” exist. They are just an American twist on a Mexican dish.

No that anyone would have cared anyway. I mean, people were saying things like, “This is muy gusto!” and “You have to tell me what kind of tor-till-ee-as you used”, so I really doubt they wanted a lesson in cooking.

How about we make a deal: I teach them how to make Mexican food and they, in turn, can teach me to master my camera. Sounds good, huh?

Monday, February 20, 2006

I need Dr. 90210!

Wow…it feels like these past couple days have been a whirlwind! A fairly large group of photographers from around the nation have gathered in Orange County for Mike Colon’s intensive workshop this week and I met a lot of them yesterday at a BarlowGirl concert. We had a blast and I was so happy to finally meet people I’ve communicated only via email.

Here’s the BIG news: Mike Colon--yes, as in theeeeee Mike Colon!-- asked me and JD to model for the class this week. I’ll be modeling tomorrow at Newport Beach and on Thursday JD and I will be modeling together…in our wedding attire! I know, I know, all this must sound crazy—and it is, really—but I’m totally stoked that all this is happening! The best news is that I’ll be able to attend two of the four day workshop for free…which is like a $800 value. Now mind you, I wish I would have known about this earlier so I could have had an emergency tummy tuck and lypo, but I guess I’ll manage. I’ve never, ever modeled before, so I know I’ll look at the pictures and groan with embarrassment, but I think that this experience will be good because I’ll be able to watch top notch photographers manage their cameras and engage their subjects.

I’m now off to run 27 miles…up a mountain…wearing a trashbag under my three sweatshirts…trying to burn off extra calories by dragging my washing machine behind me. But before this, I have to watch another episode of “Lost” with JD, paint my nails, wish my roots were dyed, and pluck my eyebrows.

So much to do…and not enough time!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Dreams don't go on sale

The Pacific air blew through my hair like whisper as I stared at the Santa Monica Pier from a distance. It’s the same pier my best friends and I spent our New Year’s on when we were seniors in high school. Time has passed faster than the click of a lens. Click, I almost forgot. I hastily grab my camera from my purse and begin taking pictures of the Nomadic Museum. I’m to meet Melissa at one, so I arrived early to take snapshots without feeling intimidated. People think I’m crazy as I walk along the sides of the museum taking pictures of cargo shipping crates. Of plants. Of signs. Anything that captures my eye. Oh, and is there plenty to catch my eye.

The exhibit has the most stunning images by Gregory Colbert and famed architect, Shiguru Ban, designed the traveling museum. I buy tickets for Melissa and me and wait again in the whispering air. We’ve never met before, so I was on the prowl for a woman dressed in a black sweater and jeans—which is pretty much an Angelino uniform in the winter. She passes by me twice before I ask for her identity, laughing sheepishly.

We stand in the glittering sun and talk for a while before seeing the show. I decided immediately that she’s wonderful and I let my guard down. I become my dorky self, asking questions like I’ve just been resurrected from a tomb. I ask too many questions, that’s what everyone always says. So I’ve trained myself to bite my lip when I meet someone for the first time, but with Melissa, the rule was thrown out. This was because she immediately put me at ease. No pretense, just good ole’ fashion conversation.

We walked in spotted silence, splattered with short dialogue about Colbert’s art. Towards the end of the walk-through, we started talking business. Exactly what makes hers work. How she began and how she ended where she is presently. It’s an interesting story, bur nothing groundbreaking. And I mean this in the best possible way because her story made me believe even more so that I can begin my craft sooner than I anticipated.

She kindled a fire inside my soul and I couldn’t wait to discuss my future with JD over dinner.

Over kalmata olives, marinated artichoke hearts, and crumbled feta cheese, we discussed what route would be best for me to pursue. I was secretly hoping that we would make it through the Greek salad before he wanted to know everything about my day. No such luck. So tell me evvvvverything. He asks this the same way evvvvvrytime I do or try something new. He’s fishing through his salad for the artichoke hearts and placing them on my salad. You know I hate anything pickled, he says.

By the time the penne al formaggio is served, he knows about my date with Melissa. He’s chewing audibly and in deep thought when he asks what I want to do. After a long time, I admit that I don’t know. He gets up from the table and starts washing the dishes as I play hockey with the last few penne on my plate.

Should I ask my dad for the money, I ask almost too quietly. We’ve been saving long before we were married for a down payment on our future home, but it's money weren't ever going to touch. The home we intended to buy before marrying in Hawaii. Just as JD was ready to get papers in order to sign for a home months ago, I chickened out and said we should wait. For what, I’m still trying to figure out. He, however, believes that now is the time that we take a step of faith. Money should never be an issue when dreams are concerned and, he says, I've given him another reason to wake up and go to work. To him, my aspirations don't have a pricetag.

That's when the hockey playing stops. I know where I'm supposed to go...and now I have the means of getting there.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Ashes and Snow

I'm too tired to post much tonight, but tomorrow I'll describe how wonderful my day was. I met up with Melissa Schwartz of Organic Photography in Santa Monica this afternoon. We went to the "Ashes and Snow" Exhibit at the Nomadic Museum, just north of Santa Monica Pier. The show was phenomenal and I highly encourage anyone who loves photography to go...it's more than worth the $15.00 admission.

However, what I enjoyed more was my conversation with Melissa. She opened my eyes to a new world. A world that I'm so ready to enter. After talking to JD this evening, he's helping me step out on a limb and purchase new lenses. That's right, I wrote 'lenses' as in plural. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm getting new lenses and business cards within the next month.

This is it...don't get scared now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Just like sugar

He left the house before the sun was up, so he missed the surprise I left for him on the kitchen nook. That’s where we leave most our surprises. Whenever I come home from a long day at work, I always look on the nook to see if he’s left me a note or gift. My day began with his melodic voice singing “Happy Valentine’s Day”, a song he only knows the words to because he makes it up as he goes along. He told me to be ready at 11 because he was taking the rest of the day off. I showered, cleaned the house, and pounded a shot and a half of cough syrup before he arrived. He was holding something behind his back, which was both exciting and annoying. The latter because we established we weren’t exchanging gifts this year. I give him a big hug and then try sneaking my hands to the small of his back to feel what he’s hiding. He pulls away and tells me curiosity killed the cat. Thank God I’m not a cat, I retort. He laughs and pulls from behind his back…computer speakers? Before he can explain, I’m laughing and almost crying. We’ve been watching “Lost” via my laptop in bed, so the sound leaves something to be desired. Now, he says, we can watch our DVDs in surround sound. I wish I could give his kind of gifts—the kind of gifts I always want and forget to request.

I rush him over to the kitchen nook for his surprise, but it’s not half as exciting. I bought him a bucket with a frog wearing a crown (well, because he’s my Prince Charming) stuffed with candy. My gift makes his gift look like frankincense and myrrh.

He’s brought out his car to the front of our house as I lock the front door. I run down the flight of steps and hop into his car. He has my favorite Jack Johnson CD playing and there’s a red gift bag on the passenger seat. I thought we weren’t exchanging gifts, I moan. He smiles and increases the volume. I can’t believe he remembered. Months ago, I smelled a body wash and lotion set that reminded me of our wedding in Hawaii…the set is now sitting in my lap. It looks like you’ve got a massage coming your way, he says. Darn it….he’s good.

We eat an amazing lunch at Houston’s and make our way over to Newport Beach and Balboa. We spend the afternoon talking about our Valentine’s past and try to gage where this one will rank on our list. Probably won’t beat the Valentine’s trip to Santa Barbara after I returned from Europe, but it’ll be close. On our way home, the cars, just like the people, begin to look less European. There’s stop and go traffic. I like staring at people when they drive. Where are they going? What are they thinking? When I stopped looking out the window, I turned to him as he was reaching behind my passenger seat. One more gift. This is for Saturday, he says. I open the box to find a new tennis outfit. Beaming, he told me he picked it out himself. Okay, I couldn’t take it anymore…he couldn’t beat me at this gift-giving game! Well…well…I’m downloading Season 2 of “Lost” for you, I told him, ruining my surprise. And just like that, he lets me think I won. You’re the best, he says.

We get home and plug in my new speakers. We listen as Kate and John Locke go down the hatch in surround sound. I tell him to shhhh because he’s eating his Valentine candy too loudly, I need to hear what Jack’s saying.

At seven, we made our way to dinner. We pass bean sprouts and fresh sweet basil back and forth and sip each other’s soups. With the sounds of Vietnamese music in the background, we laughed and flirted the night away. Flirted, I like the way that sounds. He still flirts with me, just like when we were in high school. So much has changed since then, yet nothing really has. I’m still so in love with him and I love him with a young and innocent love. A love that has never been broken or tainted, just a pure unrefined love that seeps from my pores and into his.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I [heart] Valentine's!

Happy Valentine’s Day!! I don’t know what things JD has in store for me, but I will be sure to post all the details—well, most of them anyway—later. I’ll be sure to take my camera along and hopefully post pictures.

An extra BIG hug and sloppy KISS goes out to my beautiful friends…have fun tonight! And remember: A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle!

Monday, February 13, 2006

What came first? The chicken or Jasmine?

Why am I such a chicken? I swear, I should just lay an egg to complete this metamorphosis. I mean, the chicken and I both share entities like feet, breasts, and pointed breathing orifices, so if I sprouted feathers tonight, I wouldn’t be surprised.

I need—need—to be willing to go out on a limb and ask people if I could take their pictures. I mean, I know two (dos, deux, er, ni, shalosh) couples who are engaged, so why can’t I bring myself to ask them if I could snap their engagement photos? For crying out loud, I wouldn’t charge them and I would give them a CD of all their pictures, so what’s stopping me? My fear. Of rejection. Of incompetence. Of embarrassment.

I need to do this. Just need to.

But first, I will master Photoshop CS. This way, I can correct, crop, and colorize my images before they see them. Added to this list is to cure world hunger and to lose 15 pounds. On my mark…get set…go!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Like a moth to a flame

I’m sick in bed. Still. Tissues are piled as high as an adolescent boy and it sounds like a broken-down 1956 Ford is trying desperately to start every time I cough. This is not pretty.

The good news is that my lovely husband earned highly coveted cool points by brining home the entire first season of “Lost”. So for the last couple of days, I’ve curled up with my down comforter and let Jack, Kate, and John Locke steal my thoughts. I found it of particular interest that one of the main characters is named after one of my favorite philosophers and I made a reference to him in my last post (hint: it’s not Jack or Kate).

The Episode: The Moth
DVD Chapter: 3
Scene set-up: John Locke is encouraging Charlie, who’s going through drug-withdraws

Locke takes Charlie over to a cocoon and while Charlie thinks it’s that of a butterfly, Locke explains that the cocoon is even more special because it’s a moth’s cocoon. Locke tells Charlie that he could make a slit in the cocoon and help the moth escape a little sooner, but that would do it a great disservice. In doing so, the moth would prematurely hatch, but his life would be shortened. Locke explains that the struggle is what makes the moth so strong and provides for a longer life expectancy. Moths are resilient and it’s the struggle that makes them successful in the long run.

I wanted to cry. No really, I got choked up. Yes, I’m sure I was more emotional because I was sick and I had more medicine racing through my veins than white blood cells, but, still, I was moved. I couldn’t help but draw a parallel in my life. I need to struggle. In order to get what I want from life, a struggle, my cocoon, needs to be present. It’s only then when I can look back and realize that I worked hard to be where I’ll one day be.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Trumpets and Tissue

Not too long ago, I learned of John Locke’s parable about a blind man. The blind man wants to know what the color scarlet is like, so he interviews dozens of people about the color scarlet, thinks a long time about the topic, that, at long last, he victoriously announces that he knows what scarlet is like: “It is like the sound of a trumpet.” I sometimes wonder, am I the blind man? If I’m just reading about photography—via the Internet, books, and museums—without actually experiencing it, maybe I’m hearing false trumpets. Maybe my time would be better spent out in the world, experiencing it.

I’m laying in bed sick today. I find that I think a lot while laying on my back staring at my ceiling. Today my thoughts are freckled with doubt. I try to blow out the doubt into my tissue, but it doesn't seem to work. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to make my goals and ambitions come to fruition. I just want someone to take me by the hand and show me the ropes. I suppose I’m just too scared to go out and do it on my own. How do I begin? Should I just ask people if I could take pictures of them? Is that how others began their craft? Why do I feel I have so many questions and so little answers?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Meeting with Lippke

I walked up the flight of stairs to his office and stood outside the door for two seconds too long. Within those two pulsating heartbeats, I questioned why I was there. Why I was about to walk into his Belmont Shore office. I shouldn’t have allowed those two seconds to be stolen; I should have held them tightly and taken the breath out of them.
He’s on the phone when I walk in and looks at me like one might look at any stranger walking into his office. He forgot…I just knew he would forget. He places his tanned hand over the phone’s mouth and whispers for me to have a seat. His assistant, thinking I’m a potential client, offers me a drink and it comes in a fancy glass. Reminds me a fat walnut. Thanks, I say as the water slides down my nervous throat.
Wedding photo albums stacked around me like the TransAmerica, Bank of America, and Bonaventure buildings, I begin pouring over his images. Beautiful. Breathtaking, really. What I really want him to say is that taking these pictures was easy and he’ll be more than happy to show me how. I want him to ask me to be his apprentice, like a common day Verrocchio and DaVinci. I’ll accept his offer and then we’d celebrate with Godiva chocolate-dipped strawberries and mugs of hot cocoa. Yes, most my daydreaming involves chocolate.
For the next hour or so, after reminding him why I was there, he sits across from me, his legs crossed like a capital “T”, and talks about his work and his passion for photography. I listen attentively, but every so often I find myself wishing that I’d catch a glimpse of a gold Godiva box hidden somewhere. Underneath that stack of Aperture Magazine would be a good spot. He recommends what lens I should purchase—in another daydream he offers them to me for free—and I dutifully write down what each lens specializes in. Ceremony, check. Preparation detail, check. Reception, got it.
The phone rings and he excuses himself. I drink more water from my walnut. He hangs up and tells me to feel free to look around. Should I start with the TransAmerica or Bonaventure building first? I guess this is the end of our meeting. While I’m extraordinarily thankful we’ve met and he sacrificed some of his time, I’m left feeling empty. I didn’t know what to expect, but it sure wasn’t this vacuous emotion. He’s typing away at his computer when I see a stack of loose-leaf images on the coffee table in front of me. Some are postcards of his images, others are wedding invitations including his engagement photos. I flip through them wishing they were my images, not his. As I restack the cards, one falls on the floor. When I reach down to pick it up, I read a return address from a wedding invitation. Unbelievable. 2459 Jasmine Way. Now, I’m not big into signs and wonders, but this is pretty cool. I smile a crooked smile and finish restacking the images.
After shaking his tanned hand goodbye, I felt good. Sure, I didn’t get my cup of hot cocoa, but I got something better: The belief that I will succeed. And I won’t succeed by being someone’s apprentice, but, rather, I’ll do it my way. The 2459 Jasmine Way, to be more precise.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Uber cool

So here begins an online journal of where I’m headed. I need to document the detours and pit stops along this mangled and gnarled photographic path. I’m writing to never forget the humble beginnings of my great future and to celebrate my mistakes—I’ve always maintained that making a mistake sooner, rather than later, is always a good thing.

Okay, well, I’ve been working at scouring meetings with prominent photographers around Los Angeles in hopes of gaining a better understanding of what it is they really do. In this vein, I met with Mike Colon (who’s basically the George Washington of wedding photography) last week and things went so much better than I could ever asked for! We chatted for two hours and it’s as if I took a crash course in sheer brilliance…he’s really, really amazing! As I sat in two hours of traffic from the OC back to Los Angeles, I promised myself that one day I would shoot along side him. One day I’m going to hold my own next to an industry great and while my face may never appear on the photographic Mount Rushmore, I’ll be fine with working with such an awesome photographer.

My big news this week is that I’ll be meeting with Ira Lippke tomorrow…yay!! He’s another industry heavy-weight and I’m stoked just to meet him. I’m driving out to his studio in Long Beach, so I hope that everything bodes in my favor. Who knows…maybe I’ll be able to wash his windows, or clean his studio prints. Really, I’d do anything to get my foot in the door.

Tonight I’m off to a Photoshop class. This is week two of ten, so hopefully things will get a little better. Last week my professor called my a ‘numb skull’…I hope he meant it in the nicest of ways ☺

Friday, February 03, 2006

Check, check...is this thing on?

I've always wanted to be a lead singer in a band, but I can't sing for beans...so I guess this is as close as I'll get:
Check, 1...2
Check, 1...2...3